One activity that my family and I like to do for a change of scenery is to pile into the car and take a road trip to visit a park or trail. Stretching our legs and surrounding ourselves with the beauty of nature does wonders for the soul.

We like to shoot for recreational activities within Hendricks County, Indiana, or parks and trails within 40 miles of Danville so that we're not spending more than an hour each way in the car, and fortunately for us, there are plenty of options to explore. Here are some of my suggestions for road trips to parks and trails located in or within an hour of Hendricks County.

I'll use Danville -- centrally located within Hendricks County -- as the starting point.

B&O Trail The B&O Trail is a popular spot for running, walking and bicycling.

The B&O Trail roughly follows the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad path from Raceway Road through Brownsburg to County Road 250 East here in Hendricks County. The paved trail is 8.35 miles long and at one point, it goes underneath Ronald Reagan Parkway through a tunnel decorated with a number of neat murals.

A bridge with observation decks on each side spans White Lick Creek on the west side of Brownsburg, and the trail is ideal for bicycling, jogging or hiking. Parking is available at Cardinal Park or in a couple of lots where the trail crosses County Road 500 East and another where it crosses Indiana 267.

For more information, click here.

  • Multiple locations in Brownsburg; click here to find a trail map
  • 8.35 miles from Raceway Road to County Road 250 East in Brownsburg
  • Open dawn to dusk daily
  • Free admission
  • No overnight camping

Eagle Creek Park Eagle Creek Park (Photo by Eagle Creek Park - Indy Parks and Recreation on Facebook)

The largest park in Indianapolis and one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S., Eagle Creek Park spans more than 5,000 acres when you include both water and land just outside the northeast border of Hendricks County near Brownsburg. The park surrounds the massive 1,300-acre Eagle Creek Reservoir and has more than 10 miles of trails.

Other amenities include Earth Discovery Center, Ornithology Center, Go Ape Treetop Adventure, a beach with swimming and much more.

  • Eagle Creek Park, 7840 W. 56th St., Indianapolis
  • 23.1 miles from Danville
  • Open year round, hours vary based on the time of year
  • Entrance fee at the front gate
  • No overnight camping

Lieber State Recreation Area / Cataract Falls State Recreation Area Cataract Falls (Photo by Richard Jones)

Near Cloverdale, Ind., southwest of Hendricks County, Lieber State Recreation Area is a huge 8,075-acre property that includes 1,400-acre Cagles Mill Lake. Hike the Covered Bridge Nature Trail, visit the Nature Center or do some fishing, boating, picnicking or overnight camping there. 

Not far from Lieber SRA lies the beautiful Cataract Falls State Recreation Area, where gorgeous photos are waiting to be taken.

For more information, click here.

McCloud Nature Park Aerial view of historic truss bridge and Big Walnut Creek at McCloud Nature Park. (Photo by Dave Novak)

McCloud Nature Park is located just outside of North Salem, within Hendricks County. This 232-acre wonder boasts 6.5 miles of trails, Big Walnut Creek, a Nature Center, a live observable honeybee habitat, a wetland habitat with a boardwalk and observation deck and a historic truss bridge.

For more information, click here.

McCormick's Creek State Park McCormick's Creek State Park (Photo by Brent Tindall Photography)

Spencer, Ind. -- southwest of Hendricks County -- is home to McCormick's Creek State Park, where there is a ton of stuff to explore. Indiana's very first state park offers waterfalls, canyons, a nature preserve, a stone arch bridge, a newly-renovated Nature Center, hiking trails, fishing, picnicking, overnight camping and more.

(Note: On March 31, 2023, McCormick's Creek State Park took a direct hit from an EF3 tornado that ripped a four-mile-long swath of destruction through the park. At the time of this posting, amenities at the park are limited as the long on-going process of cleanup continues, so be sure to check their website before planning your visit.)

For more information, including the availability of park amenities at any given time, click here.

Morgan-Monroe State Forest Morgan-Monroe State Forest (Photo by Visit Morgan County, Indiana on Facebook)

Morgan-Monroe State Forest is one of my favorite places to visit for some peace and quiet and to reconnect with nature. As the name suggests, this forest is located on the Morgan-Monroe County Line, southeast of Hendricks County.

The property spans more than 24,000 acres and boasts three forest lakes, overnight camping, back country hiking trails, picnicking, the Draper Cabin and the Cherry Lake Lodge. You can even pan for gold there!

For more information, click here.

Raccoon Lake State Recreation Area Raccoon Lake is full of trees providing gorgeous fall foliage. (Photo courtesy of Raccoon Lake on Facebook)

Outside of Rockville, Ind., to the west of Hendricks County, lies Raccoon Lake State Recreation Area and Cecil M. Hardin Lake. Visitors to this property can enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, picnicking, the Historic Mansfield Roller Mill, overnight camping and much more.

For more information, click here.

Splash Island Family Waterpark tube slide

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Shades State Park Pine Hills Nature Preserve in Shades State Park (Photo by Indiana State Parks on Facebook)

Shades State Park, near Waveland, Ind., is a great place for hiking, picnicking, fishing, canoeing and overnight camping. Sandstone cliffs overlook Sugar Creek while the Pine Hills Nature Preserve provides unique topography and all sorts of treats for the eyes and camera lens.

For more information about this state park located northwest of Hendricks County, click here.

Sodalis Nature Park Sodalis Nature Park in Plainfield. (Photo by Lucas Dunscombe)

Another location within Hendricks County, Sodalis Nature Park is located in Plainfield. Named for the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), this 210-acre park offers a 5-acre pond with catch-and-release fishing, an ADA-accessible pier, 3.5 miles of trails, picnic tables, a large pavilion and plenty of room to roam.

The Town of Plainfield has plans to expand Sodalis Nature Park significantly within the next few years.

Turkey Run State Park Turkey Run State Park (Photo by Brent Tindall Photography)

To the northwest of Hendricks County, near Marshall, Ind., is Turkey Run State Park. Have a picnic at Turkey Run, hike some trails, visit the Colonel Richard Lieber Cabin, catch a fish or two in Sugar Creek and marvel at the unique geological formations throughout the park.

You'll definitely want to bring your camera with you. For more information, click here.

Vandalia Trail Vandalia Trail in Coatesville

There are two sections of the Vandalia Trail, which runs roughly along the path of the former Vandalia Railroad through southern Hendricks County.

One section is in Plainfield, and this 4.3-mile paved segment spans most of the width of the town.

The western portion of the Vandalia Trail begins in Amo, Ind., runs west through Coatesville, and connects to People Pathways, which continues to Greencastle. Trailheads in Amo and Coatesville provide modern restrooms, water fountains and bicycle repair stations.

The western portion of the trail within Hendricks County is 4.1 miles of pavement, while People Pathways is crushed stone and natural surfaces.